It is with great pleasure that I take up the reins at Didaskalia as the new Editor-in-Chief. Since its inception 15 years ago, Didaskalia has proved to be something of an indicator for the place of Greek and Roman performance in our culture - and culture in the broadest terms. It has tracked productions ranging from mainstream to fringe, from professional to amateur, from workshop to fully realised, recognising that each incarnation of these ancient plays is worth noting in its performative context. It has charted the developments of new technologies and the fascinating possibilities of virtual pedagogy. It has, through its refereed section, shown some of the vast range of methodological approaches scholars are utilising in trying to analyse Greek and Roman drama in performance. Most of all, it has repeatedly shown the potential (sometimes realised, sometimes not) for performance and theory, theatre and academia to meet, engage and mutually enrich each other.
In taking up this new role at Didaskalia, I am immensely grateful to my editorial predecessors, Sallie Goetsch and Hugh Denard, who, together with Toph Marshall, have created and developed Didaskalia. I am pleased to say that Hugh, Toph and I will continue to work together on Didaskalia, and that we have a number of plans in the pipeline for the future. The website will shortly be undergoing a major redesign; new guidelines for submission and refereeing are in place; and the journal will now have formal timelines for submission and review to ensure timely publication. Further details can be found on the Information for Contributors page.
It is my hope that Didaskalia will continue to grow as a resource that can be useful to scholars, students, theatre practitioners and the interested general public. The study of Greek and Roman drama in performance (both ancient and modern) is expanding rapidly. Classical performance reception has become a hugely popular and exciting strand of scholarship and Didaskalia has an important role to play in this discourse. As the website develops, we shall be able to explore some of the most exciting of cross-media innovations in terms of our study pages for students. As the journal consolidates, we shall be able to show some of the most interesting and challenging of scholarship on performance and ancient drama. And as ever, we shall continue to welcome comments, contributions and suggestions from our readership.
By Paul Monaghan and Jane Montgomery Griffiths (Conference Convenors)
In September 2006, two Australian universities (the University of Melbourne and Monash University) hosted a distinctive and fascinating interdisciplinary conference entitled Close Relations: the Spaces of Greek and Roman Theatre. The conference explored notions of 'space' in the performance culture of the Graeco-Roman world, and in its reception over time and in the contemporary world.
Issues of 'space' in the Classical World had been dealt with before, both in published works and in conferences, but Close Relations sought to expand the field in both its breadth and its conceptualisation of the term 'space'. Drawing together academics from the disciplines of Classics, Theatre Studies, Performance Studies, Literary Studies, Archaeology and Ancient History, as well as theatre practitioners, the conference demonstrated the permeability of what are normally considered to be discipline-discreet definitions and methodologies. Most importantly, the conference brought academics together with performance practitioners to show the crucial - but often under-recognised - interrelationship between theory and practice, and between antiquity and modernity. As such, the conference broke new ground and opened up the parameters of the discourse of 'space' in Classics and Performance Studies. It showed the potential for complementary methodologies that acknowledge disciplinary specifics but celebrate and validate the importance of cross-disciplinary dialogue.
This special issue of Didaskalia contains a selection of articles based on the conference and shows some of the range of approaches taken by participants when defining 'space'. Space here is conceived as being located in the physical world (architectural, corporeal), in the mind (imagination, interpretation, concepts), in culture (the source-culture, reception across cultures and time), and in time (space-time, spaces in time, spaces across time).
The issue begins with Murray Dahm's fascinating look at the 'space' of Nero. Fictional anti-hero, villain, aesthete, singer, Nero has filled numerous spaces of the imagination in the changing cultural Zeitgeists of two thousand years. Dahm's analysis of Nero the performer shows how slippery the performative frame of historiography can be. We follow this with a very different take on space in Jane Griffiths' discussion of the RSC's tour of Electra to Northern Ireland, which describes the performance space as a physical entity, a cultural imagining and an ever evolving phenomenon of memory. The polyvalence of space and memory that Griffiths discerns connects with the fragmentation of space found in post-modern and post-dramatic adaptations of Greek drama. Ivar Kvistad and Paul Monaghan, writing respectively on Heiner Muller's and Dood Paard's versions of Medea, demonstrate just how significantly design, the mise en scene and the dramatic space of the play can interact to force a re-evaluation of the ancient source and the modern audience's place in relation to it. Finally, two very different scholars bring contrasting perspectives to bear on Aeschylus. Giulia Torello's classicist insight informs her discussion of Ronconi's production of Prometheus Bound, and demonstrates how a textually based understanding of the play can engage with theatrical decisions necessitated by the practicalities of location. Ashley Wain uses his experiential understanding of performance and staging Agamemnon to argue for an affective, spiritual approach to performing tragedy. As a collection, the essays exemplify one of the main discoveries of the conference: that space is both a 'container' within which things and events are located, and also a relational distance within and across the physical, mental, cultural temporal and disciplinary spheres. Despite the distance of time and culture, we remain 'close relations' to the ancient world we try to understand and reinterpret.